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Getting into the Spirit of the Season

Getting into the Spirit of the Season

I always have to warm up to Christmas. As much as I want it to be the most wonderful time of the year, sometimes it’s hard for me to be very joyful when the roads are icy and everywhere you turn there’s a barrage of commercialism.

This year it felt like it took extra effort on my part to really get into the Christmas spirit, but in the end I feel like all the work and soul searching has actually helped me get into the true spirit of the season more than I have the last couple of years. One of the best realizations I’ve had is that even though I want to create beloved traditions, the most memorable and special moments have been small ones – moments I might not have had if I didn’t take time to slow down and notice them.

This year, it was the unseasonably warm afternoon we went to the park to fly a kite and all laid down in the grass to look at a ladybug while we soaked up the sun. It was the night we tucked Cooper into bed and he requested the song “Angels We Have Hear on High” and then sang all the lyrics with us. It was the evening Noel and I binge watched some of our church’s Christmas messages with tears in our eyes. And today it was the moment I was leaving the grocery store with the kids and Cooper took Ellen’s hand and the two of them giggled as we crossed the parking lot. I looked at them in their pajamas with their unkempt hair and thought, “I love these kids so much” and said a silent prayer of gratitude. I am so grateful for those small moments that remind me what is most important in this world and especially grateful for the push this time of year  brings to reflect on the birth and life of our Savior.

A Vegas Halloween

A Vegas Halloween

Our trips to Las Vegas are never what people imagine. When you’re a parent, a Mormon, and you’re visiting family it’s definitely very different from what most people do in Vegas. Our purpose in going to Vegas was to be there for Noel’s grandma’s 80th birthday and because of the way our flights worked out, we were also there for Halloween. Life was a tad bit crazy leading up to our trip. Noel was out of town for work earlier in the week and the day we left was Cooper’s Halloween party at school. The school parade and all the class parties were in the afternoon, which meant the half day kids either had to come back or just stay all day. We decided to give full-day a try mostly because we anticipate that transition next year will be difficult and we figured any exposure he can have to it is good. Because we knew lunch would be the hardest part, both the teacher and I agreed it would be a good idea if I was there. Ellen and I joined him for lunch and then stayed to help the teacher with all the hyper kids until the Halloween party. I also was helping out with the Halloween party, so I helped get kids in costumes, assisted with the parade, ran a game, and officially ruled out kindergarten teacher as a career option.

School Parade

We had a few hours to wrap things up at home before heading to the airport. The kids were so excited to fly on an airplane. Because we were trying to use up the rest of some rewards flights, Noel flew Frontier by himself and I flew Southwest with the kids. Whenever I told anyone about our flight plan people would tell me how sorry they were, but the truth is people are so nice to me when I fly alone with the kids. Cooper and Ellen were the only kids on the flight and got lots of special attention from the flight attendants. They even announced their arrival on the plane over the loudspeaker and everyone cheered.

Flying Kitty

By the time we got our rental car (we had one of those Seinfeld moments when we we discovered the rental car company had ran out of cars) and drove to our rental house it was past midnight our time and the kids were completely zonked. The next day they woke up excited to play with Grandma Glenna and Granda Mike (Noel’s parents were also able to come down from Alaska for the birthday) and check out the pool in the backyard. We stayed in a place we found on VRBO and really enjoyed having a place to call or own, especially with its own private pool and hot tub.

Pool!

On Halloween we went to Annie’s house (Noel’s cousin), went trick-or-treating in her neighborhood, and enjoyed some time eating good food with family. Cooper wanted to be Emmet from the Lego movie and the rest of us chose costumes that went along with it.

Everything is Awesome

The next day was daylight savings. I highly recommend never traveling with children during the daylight savings change. At 5:30am (it would have normally been 7:30 at home) Ellen exuberantly exclaimed, “It’s morning time!!!” and would not go back to sleep. Ellen was so grumpy and emotional at church that she wouldn’t go to nursery and I ended up sitting in the hall with her for the last two hours. Cooper was apprehensive at first, but stayed in primary without incident. You just can never predict which one of your kids is going to have trouble with change. That night, we had a pool party at our place with all the Vegas relatives just for fun.

Pool Party

Whenever the kids’ grandparents are around we like to take advantage of free babysitting. Monday morning we went for a lovely run by the city dump . . . Then that night we went on a double date with Annie and Greg to a delicious Tapas restaurant and then went to downtown Las Vegas for fried Oreos. It was really fun to hang out with them sans kids even if we saw some things we can never unsee.  The next morning we went to the Las Vegas temple (a sharp contrast to the night before) and did some sealings for the dead. We’d wanted to do an endowment session, but didn’t make it in time. At first I was feeling really bummed about the change of plans because I’d really wanted the clarity doing a session usually gives me, but then I ran into a lady in the dressing room who was also doing sealings. She said her husband usually comes with her, but had a doctor’s appointment that day and because Noel and I were there they would have enough men to still perform the sealings. Additionally, she was a USU alum and had student taught at my elementary school (which was bulldozed shortly after I finished there). It was just little things that could be shaken off as coincidences, but it made me feel looked after.

Las Vegas Temple

Our last day there was Grandma Virginia’s birthday. We threw a big BBQ party at our rental, with lots of delicious food of course. It was nice to see everyone one last time since we were flying home the next morning. Happy Birthday Virginia

We flew home Wednesday and were thrown back into fall (we had a couple of days in the 80s in Vegas) and the rhythm of regular life. Here are a few more pictures for your enjoyment.

Back Up and Running

Back Up and Running

There was a time when I would have apologized for a lapse in blogging, but just like how I’ve stopped apologizing for the nearly constant pile of dirty dishes in my sink and for my children not being perfect Stepford children, I won’t be apologizing for this either. For no reason, but every reason I’ve been super contemplative lately about everything and nothing at all and lying low on the internet has been refreshing and glorious. We recently switched web hosting companies and as we’ve been transferring everything over I’ve taken several trips down memory lane and remembered how much I actually do love this little log about our lives, so I’m back with some updates. (There’s still some wrinkles we’re ironing out with the transfer, so don’t be too alarmed if something is a little wonky.)

Coop and the fall colors

Cooper – Enjoying kindergarten for the most part. There have been a few bumps in the road (he really dislikes this “brain break” thing they do at school where all the kids get out their wiggles), but we have a good team that is willing to try new things to help him feel more comfortable. Every day he says his favorite thing was, “Playing on the playground and drawing.” He also really likes his homework (it’s a lot of counting and practicing writing) and bringing home books from the library. So far, he has exhibited exceptional taste in book choice. I went to the doctor (somehow I, not the kids, managed to get Strep) a few weeks ago and took the kids with me. I told them we might get flu shots while we were there and Cooper got pretty upset. At some point a huge look of relief came across his face and he said, “Mom, what day is it?” I told him it was Wednesday. He grinned a giant grin and told us factually, “It’s Wednesday, we can’t get shots, sorry.” Can’t argue with that kind of logic. When we did get shots a week later Cooper made such a scene I think we terrified everyone in the entire building. Both Noel and I had to hold him down. After it was over he acted like he had been so brave. Right now he’s practicing for the primary program. He’s been mumbling his part into the microphone which is an improvement from last year. We can’t wait to see how it goes during the actual program this coming Sunday.

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Ellen – Ellen has decided she does like Joy School. Her favorite part is show and tell and showing Cooper the projects she does when we pick him up from Kindergarten. She acts like she’s three going on thirteen. When asked to do things she has an eye roll that rivals that of Liz Lemon fame. All of her emotions are extreme. When she’s sweet there’s no one sweeter and when she’s mad everyone better dive for cover. She finally elicited a scratch from the world’s most patient cat when she crawled under the bed and cornered him in an attempt to force snuggles. No one loves Charlie more than Ellen. Despite her rollercoaster emotions she’s actually pretty helpful and if she’s in a mood simply threatening time out and counting to three is surprisingly effective. When we got flu shots she was very stoic about the whole thing and didn’t freak out or cry at all. She’s quite social and talks a lot. The other day while taking a bath she told Noel, “I want to play forever” which we’re pretty sure was the purest desire of her heart.

The boys on swings.

Noel – Took the scouts on a campout where he enjoyed it more than he hated it. He discovered that Geocaching was a great hiking motivator that resulted in more hiking and less whining than usual. He had a nasty cold over Labor Day weekend, but has probably been the healthiest overall. During the week I had and recovered from Strep he took care of dinner pretty much every night and was up in the night with the kids on a few different occasions while I slept like the dead.

Hiking.

Audrey  – Since my Utah teaching license expired, I’ve periodically wondered what it would take to get back into the teaching game. This summer I felt a push to do more than just wonder. The Colorado Department of Education (CDE) instructed me to apply for a license with the expectation that it would be denied, but would come back with a list of classes, requirements, etc that I would need to take care of. I took care of the fingerprinting and various other paperwork and waited. I expected CDE would require me to go back to school and considering the demands of my current day job it would take several years for me to become license eligible. Imagine my shock when I received an email telling me I’m now a licensed teacher in the state of Colorado. (Just search here using my name for proof.) I feel like things have really come together with this, but I’m not entirely sure for what purpose. (Am I being led to a job? An epiphany? Is Noel going to be unable to work for some unknown reason?) I’m not even sure what I’m going to do with the license, if anything, but am taking things one day at a time and keeping my options open. For the most part I’m at peace about not knowing and am embracing the line from the hymn “Lead Kindly Light” that says, “Keep thou my feet; I do not ask to see / The distant scene – one step enough for me.” The same week I was granted a license I was asked to be a Youth Sunday School teacher for the 14-18-year-olds at our church. (One of my biggest worries about getting back into the teaching game was whether I even wanted to work with teenagers anymore, so this did not seem coincidental.) Accepting this new position meant the end of my service in the Relief Society Presidency. I’d been a counselor for almost three years and even though the position was initially extremely intimidating and I still have doubts about whether I did enough, I grew a lot as a person and very much felt God’s hand in my life over my three years of service.

To sum up this update, here are a bunch of pictures from the last two months.

Chutes & Ladders: An Epic Road Trip

Chutes & Ladders: An Epic Road Trip

When we initially planned this trip months ago, it started out as just a little family road trip, but then more and more fun things came up that got added on. I usually like to come up with a story to share or a thread to follow when talking about our adventures, but there is so much I want to share about the last two weeks. Forgive me for this being a little bit journal-y. I’ve highlighted each day with just one picture, but there’s a big gallery at the end if you’re interested in more. 

 

Our fancy Father’s Day tinfoil dinners. Recipe to come on the food blog.

Day One – Telluride, CO

Our big summer trip began on Father’s Day. We went to church before heading out and Cooper gave Noel the best gift: joining all the kids when they sang a medley of songs about dads. Previously, whenever the kids sing special numbers in church, no matter how much we’ve tried to prep him for it, Cooper would get really tense, refuse to go up on the stage with the other kids, and then burrow his head in the pew the rest of the meeting. This time he went right up with the other kids without a problem. Noel and I both had tears in our eyes to see him take such a big step. The rest of the day was spent driving to Telluride and setting up camp. We had extra fancy tinfoil dinners with fish and asparagus and chocolate cherry cobbler for dessert.

The kids loved riding the gondolas in Telluride.

Day Two – Telluride, CO

We had really high expectations for Telluride, maybe too high. The town was really cute, but most of the really cool hikes were beyond the capabilities of some of our crew members. There was a 1/4 mile hike to a waterfall that was recommended as “family friendly” by someone at an info kiosk, but what the hike lacked in distance it made up for in washed out trails with steep slopes. After almost tumbling to our death a couple of times, we turned around. There also seemed to be a bit of a lack of signage in the town, but thanks to our data plans we were able to figure things out like the location of Carhenge (the giant free parking lot). The highlight of Telluride was the free gondola rides and eating Detroit Style Pizza at Brown Dog. (Our neighbor is a co-owner of Blue Pan, the sister restaurant to Brown Dog that just opened here in Denver.) We’ll probably visit Telluride again, but maybe when the kids are able to hike 5+ miles of difficult terrain.

Ellen looking down at Cliff Palace.

Day Three – Mesa Verde, CO

After packing up in Telluride, we headed straight to Mesa Verde National Park. We got to explore two cliff dwellings (Spruce Tree House on a hike and Cliff Palace on a tour). The cliff dwellings were probably the coolest thing we saw on our trip. Our tour of Cliff Palace  ended up being at 5pm, which wasn’t ideal, but despite the heat and it being the time of day the kids really start to be monsters everyone did really well. When we went to purchase our tour tickets the Ranger asked if we thought our kids could climb 10 foot tall ladders. We did our best not to laugh. (The tours are pretty inexpensive by the way, $4/person, and totally worth it.)

The view under Sipapu Bridge.

Day Four – Natural Bridges, UT

We crossed into Utah and headed to Natural Bridges National Monument. The kids were hot and tired so when we first started out on a hike to Sipapu Bridge everyone was super ornery, but once we got through the first three minutes of whining the kids gave up and decided to enjoy themselves. The trail is slightly technical (it’s steep and you climb three ladders) which was a little scary, but I think made it more exciting for the kids. A lot of the trail was in the shade which was also nice. Ellen hit another meltdown when we got back to the car (she was a wee bit sleep deprived since she was now only sleeping when the sun was down) so we just did overlooks for the rest of the trip. That night we stayed in some quirky cabins in Blanding, UT. It was a nice change of pace to sleep in a bed and have our own bathroom for a night.

Petroglyphs at Cave Springs.

Day Five – Canyonlands, Needles District

The last time we went to Canyonlands we took the kids to the Island in the Sky District, so this time we went to the Needles District. We hit up Newspaper rock and then headed into the park. Once again, Ellen was super ornery. She yelled and cried the whole .3 miles of the Roadside Ruin trail. (All the childless people were running the opposite direction). We let her take a nap in the car while we drove the loop to look at some of the landscape and then hiked Cave Springs. The caves were a nice respite from the heat, but we didn’t stay there too long because apparently Cooper hates caves. After having a nice picnic lunch, we headed into Moab to do some much needed laundry and grocery shopping. Somehow, we weren’t the stinkiest people at the laundromat.

Cooper cruising through the shoot the chutes.

Day Six – Moab, UT

The main reason we were in Moab was for a big “Dirty Thirty” bash/cousin reunion with Noel’s side of the family. Overnight a couple of siblings and cousins had arrived, so we all went to breakfast at Jailhouse Cafe. After that, we planned to hike Delicate Arch with the kids, but some plans got changed around and Ellen fell off a picnic table and cut her head. Instead, we hung out at the campsite doctoring her and monitoring her for signs of concussion. While we were doing this, Cooper was messing around in the car, fell out of the trunk and hit his head and got a nasty goose-egg. (Note: We did a lot of semi-dangerous stuff on this trip and hanging out at the campsite is when people got injured.) Morale was low; we were all very hot and annoyed. Everyone else had spent the morning at Mill Creek (or the shoot the chutes as my dad calls them) and we were a little jealous, so after some lunch we headed there ourselves. It was so hot that everyone ended up joining us even though they’d already been there. While we were all sliding down the “natural waterslides” Noel said, “If I were to name this trip I’d call it ‘Chutes and Ladders.'”That night even more family arrived and we had a big dutch oven dinner and Dirty Thirty Mud Cake (AKA Mississippi Mud Cake).

Ellen, the raft’s captain.

Day Seven – Moab, UT

Once upon a time, a few of the members in our group used to be river guides in Moab and the main reason we’d met up there was so we could all go down the Colorado River. When we went to pick up our boats, the rental company freaked us out about taking the kids down the section of the river we were planning on (the river is really high and fast right now) so our trusty guides refigured the trip so we’d be on a safer part. The part we rafted was so safe it was almost boring. We hopped out halfway down so all the kid-less people could enjoy the exciting stuff (also we had some more traveling to do). We think the rental company may have been a little overly cautious in their recommendations, but better safe than sorry. And really, it was pretty daring of us to take our little people rafting at all. After we had an interesting lunch of mexicones (see the gallery at the end of this post) we hugged everyone and headed to Northern Utah.

Cooper and Uncle Mitchell chilling.

Day Eight- Brigham City, UT

The main purpose of the trip to my hometown was to hear the address my brother, Spencer, gave about the two-year-mission he just served for our church in Oregon and my brother, Mitchell, give an address about the two-year-mission he’s about to serve for our church in Belgium and the Netherlands. (As well as spend some quality time with family while we’re all in the same country.) Both brothers gave mature and touching addresses that were followed by a big lunch party at my parents house. We enjoyed multiple flavors of cheesecake and chatting with old and new friends.

Cooper’s Mike and Sully Drawing.

Day Nine – Northern Utah

I took Noel to the airport so he could get back to work then spent the day with my sister and her toddler (what?!). We did super fancy things like shop at Target and the DI and chat with my sister-in-law, Danielle, before she flew back East. That evening I swung by my grandparents to say hello and pick up my brother, Spencer, who had helped them make it to a doctor’s appointment. The kids stayed with my parents and a had a grand time with Grandma Cindy and Grandpa Wayne. Cooper drew the picture above while I was gone. It’s Sully and Mike from Monster’s Inc. For the longest time drawing has been such a frustration to him. The only thing he would draw was the same stick figure. (I literally have 100 of them from preschool.) When he’d try to draw anything else he’d get mad that he couldn’t draw what he wanted and would yell and surround himself with piles of crumpled starts of drawings. In the last few weeks he’s suddenly blossomed in this area.

Me, Mitchell, Spencer, and Hope after our trip to the temple.

Day Ten – Brigham City, UT

During the day, my dad rigged up a waterslide in the backyard. It was pretty warm so we all joined in the fun. That night  we went to the Brigham City LDS temple with all of my siblings, this was one of the things I was really looking forward to. What made it even more special is that we (along with my parents, aunts, uncle, and grandfather) were able to perform some temple sealings for my grandmother, her parents, and many other ancestors. Getting all the paperwork and foundational ordinances completed is something several of us had been working on for months, so this was a much anticipated trip. Sometimes it’s hard to explain how we “do work for the dead,” but it’s one of my favorite parts about our church – that even after death God still gives you a chance.

My parents and Cooper walking back from the jetty.

Day Eleven – Promontory, UT

On our last day, we took the kids to see some of the most notable sites near my hometown. First was the Golden Spike National Monument. The rangers there were super nice. Noel flew home with our parks pass and they kindly let me in with a scanned copy of it and my name in my checkbook since I’d left my ID at my parents’ house. (I looked super together.) Though Cooper loves trains, he was really rattled by the loud sounds the trains made during the demonstration. Both he and Ellen tried to climb my legs like a monkey climbs a tree. After a picnic, we headed out to the Spiral Jetty. I’ve only been to the jetty a handful of times, but it’s always different which is part of the allure of this earthwork. The jetty always reminds me of this braided essay I wrote in college, which in turn always gets me thinking about how I should write more.

There are benefits to going home when everyone else is just leaving to go out of town.

Day Twelve – UT/WY/CO

After eleven days of fun, it was time to head home. This was the first time I’d made the trip by myself. For the most part it wasn’t too bad, but we did have several emergency potty stops, a close encounter with several busloads of pioneer trek reenactors, and the privilege of driving through a terrifying hail storm followed by a torrential downpour. (Driver of the car in front of me that drove slowly and confidently with your hazards on, I wish I could hug you for being my anchor through the storm!) When we finally arrived home we were happy to have all our traveling behind us, but sad to no longer be on vacation.

 

 

Easter 2015

Easter 2015

We’ve had some pretty exciting Easters, and while this one definitely wouldn’t fall into that category, it was nice to have a low-key Easter this year.

Easter Buckets

On Easter morning, the kids came out to find their Easter buckets (yes, buckets). They were excited to get warm weather pajamas, a special gift (a book for Cooper and Hello Kitty silverware for Ellen) as well as a somewhat spiritual movie (and personal favorite) The Prince of Egypt.

Bucket Buddies
Cooper giving Ellen one of her eggs.

After reading the Easter story in their picture scriptures and eating a wholesome breakfast, we let them go hunt for eggs in the backyard. We put two different kinds of stickers on the eggs with one assigned to each of them, so they’d find an equal number of eggs. They were really good about only taking the eggs that belonged to them.

Bad squirrels The squirrels, however, were not good at this. We’d hidden the eggs about an hour before the kids started looking for them and the squirrels got into four of them. Everyone thinks they’re cute, but trust me, they’re really evil. Fortunately, most of the candy was stuff we’d reused from our church’s egg hunt and most of my homemade peanut butter cups were safely in the fridge.

After the kids each ate a few pieces of candy, it was time to watch General Conference.

2015-04-05 10.00.57The kids obviously didn’t have the attention span to watch all of the sessions in their entirety, but they did enjoy the music and they got excited when President Monson spoke.

2015-04-05 13.29.34In between sessions we had a picnic in the backyard and relaxed elbowed each other in the hammock.

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After all the sessions were over, we had a lovely ham dinner with shredded potato casserole, roasted carrots, and pound cake for dessert.

P4050062After dinner the kids tried to catch rabbits until we made them take baths and go to bed. (Much to the bunnies relief.) It was a rejuvenating weekend on all fronts.

A Merry Christmas Whirlwind

A Merry Christmas Whirlwind

This year Christmas sprawled across two weeks which in some ways was lovely, but in other ways was exhausting. We celebrated Christmas at home on the 20th then travelled to Utah to celebrate Christmas with my family. By the time we made it back to Colorado more gifts had accumulated on our front porch and so we had what felt like third Christmas. Even now that we’re in the first week of January, I keep coming across bits of wrapping paper strewn about the house. It was a jam-packed holiday that we’re still recovering from. I could probably write a book, albeit a boring one to most, about everything we did, but I’ll leave you with the highlights.

Top 10 Worst Moments

10. Ellen spilling multiple times on my parents’ new rugs.

9. Driving to my grandparents’ houses in a snowstorm.

8. Our car not being able to make it up my grandparents’ driveway in a snowstorm because it was so slick.

7. Sharing beds with the kids at a motel in Rawlins, WY.

6. Staying in Rawlins. Even the best rated motel was questionable.

5. Having our trip home delayed by two days due to weather.

4. Driving through 70 mph winds and past an overturned semi to get home.

3. Driving down I-70’s icy roads that frighteningly resembled a luge track in order to get home.

2. Kids getting sick.

1. Cooper vomiting all over the car only an hour into our drive to Utah.

Top 10 Best Moments

10. Waking up in the night to a crying baby and realizing it’s not ours so we can go back to sleep. (Sorry, Hope and Joe!)

9. Family mustache and lipstick kiss pajamas.

8. Ellen being a not so angelic angel for the church nursery nativity.

7. Snuggling baby Porter.

6. Our car starting up when it was time to leave Rawlins even though we’d forgotten to put anti-gel additive in our diesel tank.

5. Beating the storm to get to Utah in time for Christmas.

4. Going on a double date with Hope and Joe while my parents watched all the kids.

3. Visiting with Vanessa Joy and Chris (Noel’s sister and her husband) since our return trip was delayed and they were back in town.

2. Going to the temple and doing proxy baptisms for my great grandparents.

1. Seeing my entire family, including skyping with my brother who is on an LDS mission.

Bonus: Surviving all our travel and making it home in one piece!

It’s Always Fun When Grandpa [and Grandma] Come!

It’s Always Fun When Grandpa [and Grandma] Come!

It’s still strange for me to think of my parents as grandparents sometimes. I feel old enough to be a parent, but I just don’t think of my parents as being old enough to be grandparents. Regardless, just like the song, Cooper and Ellen love it when grandma and grandpa come to visit. Noel and I also love their visits because the kids tend to get into less  trouble since they’re getting so much attention.  Also, if we’re lucky, we’re able to sneak away for some alone time.  This last visit had all of those elements.

There was all manner of shrieking coming from our house when grandma, grandpa, and Uncle Mitchell rolled up to our house after their long drive and the giggles didn’t stop (save for a few tired melt-downs) till they left. Noel and I were able to go to the Denver LDS temple and dinner, on a sunrise run, and also to a no-kids allowed church meeting. Maybe this makes us old and lame, but it was so nice to be able to do things we normally can’t.

We also took everyone to the Pumpkin Patch and enjoyed the lovely Indian Summer we’re having. Their trip was over before we knew it, but we were so glad it happened. Checkout the pictures below. The middle row are pictures I took, but everything else is done by my mom (as if you couldn’t tell).

All in the Name of Porter

All in the Name of Porter

When I was a recruiter for USU, I repeatedly told students USU was “only an eight hour drive away from home and therefore the perfect distance from family.” The eight hour buffer gives you space, but you also can make if home if something important comes up. While there is some truth to the buffer theory,  the eight hour drive is a lie and one I have been guilty of perpetuating. Sure Google maps will support the eight hour theory, but it’s only a reality if the weather is perfect, you are able to forgo food and bathroom breaks for the entire trip,  and you manage to never encounter stop lights or traffic in the Metro area.  For the average person, the drive to Utah actually takes 8 1//2 to 9 hours. For people like us whose car upholstery and mental sanity depend on frequent stops, it’s more like 10 or 11. Still, we do it several times a year so we can be part of special moments in the lives of people we love. This past weekend was one of those moments.

A few weeks ago we took the kids to Dinosaur Ridge and Noel, having done some growing up in Vernal, UT, was  pretty underwhelmed. He expressed a desire to take the kids to Dinosaur National Monument some day. It occurred to us that camping there overnight on this trip would be the perfect way to break it up so we made our reservation. We rolled into our campsite pretty late Friday night thanks to a blinding downpour and heavy holiday weekend traffic only to find that the tent hadn’t actually made it into the car. We folded down the backseat of the car and the kids and I wrestled cuddled up for the night while Noel slept in his hammock that was tied between our VW and a tree.

After a terrible night’s rest we headed to the quarry exhibit hall. The quarry is pretty cool and has around 1500 dinosaur bones.  (Really, it’s a mass grave, but let’s not think about that.) It definitely puts Dino Ridge to shame.

After getting our fill of dinosaurs, we got back in the car and finished the first half of our drive to meet up with family. The reason for our trip happened on Sunday when Porter was given a name and a blessing in our church.  Baby blessings are such sweet moments and Porter’s was especially so since he’s my nephew.

Blessed BabyThe next morning we were able to squeeze in a tour of the Ogden temple and brunch.  It was nice to end the trip with almost my entire family in such a peaceful setting. (Only my brother Spencer was missing. He’s in the middle of a two-year church mission, so he had a good excuse.) The kids were even pretty good with Ellen melting my heart when she said “I love you” right before heading into a sealing room and making me forget that she’d caused everyone to laugh irreverently when she threw a fit because we wouldn’t let her go for a swim in the baptismal font.

After that, it was back in the car for our ten hour trek back home via the badlands of Wyoming. A big thanks to all our family members who housed us, fed us, and sent us home with produce and other gifts! And of course, thank you Porter for giving us an occasion to visit!

Mormon Message About Autism

Mormon Message About Autism

I swear the people that work on the Mormon Messages are evil righteous geniuses. I feel like almost every one that I’ve seen has made me teary-eyed, but this one in particular had me full out crying. I guess you could say it struck a chord.

Ellen and Cooper are already good friends (they’re also excellent at squabbling) and I’ve had several people tell me they’re lucky to have each other and that they’ll help each other grow in different ways. I think they’re right.

PS I also found this interview about the making of the movie interesting.

Easter 2014

Easter 2014

Religiously, I feel like Easter is a very important holiday and I really want my children to understand that. This year, we tried out “Seven Days Till Easter” that was featured in the April edition of The Friend. Basically, each day in the week leading up to Easter we would learn something about Jesus by reading a scripture, singing a song, and matching what picture went with that day’s theme. Even though it took five minutes or less, it was still sort of a stretch for the attention span of our little people. At the very least, they were able to identify Jesus in the pictures we showed them, so we’ll count it as somewhat successful.

Dying Eggs

We also did some fun things. We dyed eggs for the first time with our kids. We tried out some natural dye methods. Our attempts at green and yellow were a flop, but the pink and blue-gray worked well.

Ward Easter Party

On Saturday, my friend Pam took the kids to the church Easter breakfast and egg hunt while Noel and I went to class.

Puppy!

Ellen insisted the puppy go with her.

Matching skirtsMatching skirts and puppy.On Sunday we went to church where we we sang beautiful Easter songs and learned about Jesus. Less importantly, Ellen and I rocked matching skirts.

Easter Presents

We got the kids some presents for Easter. Although Cooper kept calling them Christmas presents. I’m just going to assume it’s because he understood the Jesus connection between the two holidays, right . . . ? I am really good at giving the kids gifts of things I was already going to get them. (Happy Birthday! Here’s some underwear!) We mostly got them stuff for an upcoming trip to Great Sand Dunes (sand toys, water shoes for Cooper, and a sleeping bag for Ellen).

Slumber Party!

Ellen of course had to test out her sleeping bag and therefore Cooper also needed to get his out.

Egg Hunt

We hid some eggs in the yard for the kids to find.

On the hunt.I was tricky and just filled the eggs with all the candy they’d already received from grandma and at the church egg hunt.

Basket full of eggs.They didn’t seem to notice that they’d been duped. Especially since a large flat rate box arrived yesterday from Hershey, PA loaded with goodies.

Find the eggs!Hope you had a wonderful Easter!